26 June 2019

Zimbabwe: Mawarire, ZCTU Boss Freedom Bid Dismissed

A freedom bid by Evan Mawarire of the shadowy group #ThisFlag campaign and Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Peter Gift Mutasa yesterday hit a snag after their application for refusal of further remand was dismissed.

Mawarire and Mutasa are facing charges of subverting a constitutionally-elected Government or alternatively inciting public violence.

The application was made on Monday by the accused's lawyers, Tonderai Bhatasara and Alec Muchadehama after prosecutor Mr Ephraim Zinyandu sought a postponement in the matter indicating that it had erroneously referred it to the regional court.

Harare regional magistrate Mrs Jessie Kufa dismissed the duo's application saying her court was not a remand court and that the matter was not properly addressed to her.

Mrs Kufa said her court had no jurisdiction to deal with the matter before referring it back to the remand court for further management.

She said the accused's defence lawyers had submitted that their clients had been on remand for a long time, but five months cannot be said to be a lengthy delay.

Mrs Kufa postponed the matter to July 9 and referred it back to the remand court for further management.

Mr Jeremiah Bamu who was representing Mawarire applied for the relaxation of his client's reporting conditions after submitting that he was currently reporting once a fortnight on Fridays.

He asked the court to order his client to report once every last Friday of the month.

Mrs Kufa granted the application in Bamu's favour and ordered Mawarire to report once every last Friday of the month between 6am to 6pm.

Both Mr Bamu and Mr Bhatasara told the court that they were putting the State on notice that if it is not ready to furnish their clients with a trial date on July 9 they will proceed to make an application for removal of further remand.

On their previous appearance, Mr Zinyandu asked the court to refer the matter back to the remand court while they await indictment which was opposed by the accused lawyers.

"The State had two months from April 25 to prepare indictment papers. It is not competent for a matter that has been set down for trial to go back to remand court," Mr Bhatasara said, before applying that the duo be removed from remand as the State failed to reasonably justify another postponement.

In response, Mr Zinyandu said there was no undue delay in prosecuting the duo which warranted removal from remand.

"It will be premature for the court to remove the accused from remand," Mr Zinyandu said.

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